What happens if I go to court without a public defender on a shoplifting incident?

Asked almost 2 years ago - Hyattsville, MD

My son is 18 years old, and was accused in of shoplifting. He has to go to court but is unable to get a public defender within the 10 day timespan that the public defender's office cites. What might happen? Also, he got a civil demand letter and has made only 2 payments.

Attorney answers (2)

  1. Richard Alan Simmons

    Contributor Level 11

    Answered . Take no action related to the civil demand letter. If you cannot retain a public defender prior to trial, you really only have two options: your son can appear without counsel and request a postponement in order to retain counsel or apply to the public defender for representation; or, you could consult with private counsel immediately who may be able to appear with your son on the scheduled trial date.

    If you would like further information, please call my office to schedule a free no obligation consultation. 410-286-1220.

  2. Charles K. Kenyon Jr.

    Contributor Level 19

    Answered . First, unless he signed some agreement, he should stop paying on the Civil Demand letter but should hold on to his proof of payment for his criminal case so that he will not have to pay it again. See the link on these below.

    He needs a lawyer. He does not need a criminal record. He should have received instructions at the Public Defender's office on what to do for court. If he did, he should follow those instructions. Otherwise, if he qualifies for a Public Defender and has applied, he should let the court know that and ask for another appearance date.

    If he does not qualify, you should try to hire a private attorney. The difference between a minor criminal record and no criminal record is huge, even if all that happens in court is a small fine or probation.

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